8/2/18 – The Storm

Day 43

Miles: 844.40 to 823.03

The smoke is back. I smell it when I wake up at 1:00 a.m. and when I peek out of the tent I see the moonlit landscape through a hazy curtain. I hope it gets pushed into the valley by the time morning comes but when alarm wakes us four hours later, it’s still bad.

We walk towards Muir Pass, some of the most picturesque miles of the PCT and we see little of the beauty. The smoke does not effect the views only. It also effects my breathtaking. We’re in altitude, I really don’t need it any harder. I’d rather take another storm than this smoke, I think as we climb towards the rock hut that sits at the pass. My wish is granted soon enough.

We spent about an hour atop the pass watching the clouds build. It starts raining shortly after we leave the top. Rain is not a word strong enough. It hails. It hurts. We briefly hunker down behind a tree to put rain gear on and then continue to brave the storm.

Water builds incredibly fast. It flows over trail and down the trail. The river next to us swells and roars as every tributary is raging down the hill towards it. Several of these tributaries can no longer be crossed with dry feet and we have to ford.

When the storm is over, the landscape looks like it just snowed. Sometimes the hail is several inches deep. Sometimes it covers a deep puddle. Our shoes are drenched already. One more puddle does little difference.

The sun feels good when it finally returns. It would be nice to stop and let everything dry but we have a long day still ahead of us and we hope that there is still some sunshine out when we arrive to camp.